Arguments about growth, decline and redistribution of business enterprise in the eighteenth century often use the growth and decline of the towns as evidence. The rise and fall of towns illustrate state formation, state collapse, changes in the relationship between business and politics, and the evolving links between the ports and the interior. The scholarship on the towns in the eighteenth century is uneven. It is rich on the ports and the Gangetic plains, patchy on the other regions. Nevertheless, the evidence of urban history does allow us to draw out a few general patterns of change in economic history.